Dealing with DUI

DUI Penalties

What is a DUI?
DUI or driving under the influence is the operation of a motor vehicle while impaired due to the consumption of alchohol and/or a controlled substance. A DUI case is proven by law enforcement by utilizing a breathalyzer, urine, or blood test. An offender needs only a BAC or blood alcohol content level of .08 to be convicted of a DUI charge. However, offenders under the age of 21 need only a BAC of .02 to be convicted of a DUI.

Penalties of DUI

  1. First Offense DUI: Once arrested for a DUI charge an offender is allowed to post bail with a first time offense. Depending on the state in which the crime was committed the offender will serve up to one year in a county jail or state prison. Fines for the offense begin at $600 with a maximum of $2100. The offender's driver's license will be suspended for at least 90 days. This, however, only applies in a first time offense where other charges are not filed in combination to this DUI charge.
  2. Second Offense DUI: An offender is required by law to remain in custody in county lock up without bail for at least 5 days with a second DUI charge. In some cases depending greatly on the judge's discretion this five days sentence may be replaced for no less than thirty days of community service. Fines for a second DUI charge are no less than $1100 and no more than $5100. The offender's driver's license is suspended for a period not less than one year.
  3. Third Offense DUI: With a third DUI charge, offenders will serve a minimum of sixty days in county lock up. The offender will receive a sentence in county or state prison for up to one year. Fines begin at $2100 with a maximum of $10,000. The offender's driver's license will be suspended for no less than three years.
  4. Fourth Offense DUI: With a nation wide crack down on DUI offenses, the laws involving driving under the influence have changed. A fourth DUI offense is considered a Class C Felony. Offenders are required to stay in county lock up for one year and one day minimum. The offender will then receive a sentence of one year to ten years. Fines for this conviction begin at $4100 with a maximum of $10,000. Offender's driver's license is suspended for a period of five years.

    The offender is also required with a fourth DUI offense to attend a state certified chemical dependency program. At the time of release from imprisonment, offender will begin the chemical dependency program. Failure to complete this program or to attend scheduled meetings will result in violation of terms of sentence resulting in more jail time. Offenders will be assigned a case worker with whom offender will have scheduled appointments at which time drug and alcohol testing may be performed.

    In some states including: Alabama, Idaho, and Wyoming ignition interlock devices are attached to the offender's car at the time driving privilleges are returned. These devices require offender to breathe into a breathylizer to register BAC before the automobile will start.
All subsequent DUI charges beyond the fourth DUI conviction are also considered felony charges. In most states the three strikes rule does apply in DUI cases, which means after three felony charges the offender will receive a life sentence.

Leniency
In a first time DUI case, the judge may show leniency when doling out a sentence and/or fines. However, this would only apply to offenders without any previous criminal charges. Offenders who identify themselves as alcoholics and/or addicts wishing to voluntarily undergo chemical dependency treatment may receive sentencing for treatment in lieu of jail time.

As of 2010, the U.S. Senate has passed new state wide laws applying to DUI convictions in each state. These laws are now stricter than in previous years, as the government is attempting to crack down on underage alcohol consumption and alcohol related deaths among teens. As such, DUI convictions involving teens now hold stricter punishments. Becoming familiar with this new legislature for your individual state may prevent you from being convicted of a DUI and it may, in fact, save your life.